A letter from Founder/CEO, Jennifer Thomas Harris
I am often asked how this awesome adventure began. After studying art most of my life, I prayed for an opportunity to share my artistic talents with others, and in doing so, to be able to make a financial contribution to my growing family.
When my first born, Dryden began to grow, I would stick his little hands and feet into paint and stamp them on anything I could find.
When my first born, Dryden began to grow, I would stick his little hands and feet into paint and stamp them on anything I could find. A simple handprint for my own adoration wasn't good enough. My need for wall decor and my creative mind wanted more than something I simply shoved into a scrapbook. I wanted to jazz up his prints and create something I could display for everyone to adore & accent my decor. It was, and still is, like cloud gazing for me. I saw his hand and footprints becoming other objects in my mind. I began sketching hundreds of ideas and with an abundance of art supplies, I added topical embellishments to his messy little prints. The transformations began and as of today, I've created over 500 original designs with nearly 200 not yet released to the public. It's funny to think all of my designs were created in or around 1999 when my second son was born. Long before the amazingness of the internet and google search. Jayce was the additional source of my inspiration and I still remember why, when and where each and every piggies+paws design was created.
It wasn't until my friends took notice that I realized this precious art was about to open so many doors for me. It all started with word-of-mouth excitement. My friend Tonya was, and still is, one of my biggest fans. She was the first to see and want every new print I designed for her son, Sam. When I completed pieces for her and Sam, she would rant and rave and insist on getting them custom matted and framed for the walls of her beautifully decorated home. After framing a dozen or so, she had compiled a list of gawkers, from friends who saw Sam's piggies+paws displayed in her home to strangers in the framing store. They all wanted piggies+paws for their children too and so the gathering of friends and the idea of galleries began. The more I could gather in one spot on the same day and at the same time, the easier for this busy momma.
The first official in-home gallery was the least planned, the most shockingly successful thing I have ever done. I was headed to Tonya's house to print Sam for my latest Valentine's Day design. That day, she called everyone on her "gawker list," and nearly all of them said they would be at her house awaiting my arrival. I couldn't believe the spontaneous, same-day notification didn't stop these parents. Hoping to look somewhat professional, I gathered plenty of supplies and quickly threw together something resembling an order form with my best self-created logo. When I arrived at Tonya's house, there were 12 moms with their children in tow. Their response floored me. There were only 12 designs offered at the time, and the guests ordered like crazy. One woman thought piggies+paws was an established, nationwide company and asked whom she could contact to "host a gallery" for her friends. Remember, at that time, the internet and websites were just getting started. There was no "check out our website" or "find us on Facebook or Twitter." It was all contact by phone and I was happy to be her one and only contact. But this was the moment I knew the piggies+paws biz had begun.
From that first gallery in 1999, more requests came. Every gallery I booked, meant even more galleries, more exposure, more orders and more ideas for new designs. The busier I became, the more help I needed. I obtained a copyright and patent attorney who saw the overall business potential (I had no idea) and helped me protect everything I had started, including all 500 original piggies+paws designs. By 2002, this security had allowed me to add additional artists to help in my area. Good thing, because I had just had my third baby, Landry and had started expanding into other states.
For the last 16 years piggies+paws has trained, licensed and offered contracts to artists all over the United States. These licensed artists are running their own business, selling and recreating piggies+paws designs for clients in their own cities and states. This journey still amazes me when contemplating how long it's been and how it all began. This story, my story, is a true testament to the fact that dreams do come true and prayers do get answered. I am thankful every day.
Jennifer Thomas Harris
Piggies & Paws, Inc.
Jennifer Thomas Harris